After being honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri earlier this year, fashion designer and couturier Wendell Rodricks was recently bestowed with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government for his contribution to the fashion industry. He opens up about the award and his future work to Dhara Vora
Q. Could you tell us about the relationship between your work and France? What does the recognition mean to you?
A. I am a Francophile despite being a very patriotic Indian. I love the country and culture. To elaborate what work I have done for France will be boasting. Rest assured, I am happy to promote France at any time. Unlike the Légion d'honneur, this distinguished honour goes to few people who excel in their field and promote France and French culture. It means a lot for Indian fashion. Recently, I worked on a list of French fashion terms for fashion students with the French diplomatic staff. Initially it was to be for India. But it has now been applied internationally via Alliance Francaise.
Wendell Rodricks with Anushka Sharma walking the ramp during her modelling days at the Fashion Week in the city in 2006. Pic/AFP
Q. You are also styling for a movie after a long time. Do you consciously keep away from films?
A. Contrary to popular belief, I love good cinema and I watch art films repeatedly. I don’t watch much mainstream cinema but when Onir offered me the script of Shab, to style the main male lead, I agreed as the film revolves around an area that I know of. I enjoyed setting up the wardrobe for Ashish Bisht. I approached the styling as a film costumer not as a designer. There are very few Wendell Rodricks clothes in the film.
Wendell Rodricks had authored Moda Goa, and The Green Room, which is his memoir
Q. Any other projects you are currently concentrating on?
A. At the moment, I am busy working on my collection Yoga Calm for Wills India Fashion Week. My show is being sponsored by The Ministry of Textiles. I am doing my best to show handwoven textiles in the best way I can. India needs more support of cotton growers and weavers.
Q. Will we see you come out with more books soon?
A. Most definitely. Last year I worked on three books. Travelling In, Travelling Out that was edited by Namita Gokhale (it was released by Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo of Bhutan), Sacred Textiles of India edited by Jasleen Dhamija and a food anthology edited by Mita Kapur which is yet to be published. I am now working on a Goan History Textbook for Goan students. I will focus on this after fashion week.
Rodricks tells us, “Though the word chevalier translates as knight, this is not a knighthood. It was a knighthood when France had a monarchy but is now a distinction that was revived by Charles de Gaulle as he felt artists needed to be recognised.”